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Ella Doran giftwrap and bags

“The trend for “names” continues as more longstanding designers with strong design identities launch their own lines and license successfully for themselves.”

and artists an identity and the recognition they have always deserved.

This increased amount of design-led product specifically for this retail sector has improved quality, while keeping pricing within the limit the customer will tolerate. This continues to refresh the market and attract even more new publishers and manufacturers with fresh design or licensed imagery enjoying ongoing popularity.

As independent retail gives customers greater choice in quality, it has begun to take more interest in the designer/artist as an individual and supplier. There’s always been an acknowledgement of the designer/artist at the top end of the market and this has now become a major part of business. Well known names like Emma Bridgewater, Orla Kiely, Ella Doran, Neisha Crossland, Lisa Strickley and Jan Constantine are all now trusted brands and have licensed out of their own product areas. The trend for “names” continues as more longstanding designers with strong design identities launch their own lines and license successfully for themselves.

Suppliers have also been quick to see the advantages of partner trading with other manufacturers, joining together in sales and marketing to achieve a greater retail spread. The common factor is surface design. If it works on greetings cards it will work on giftbags, and so on. Everyone benefits including the designer. These deals have allowed publishers an added presence in their own and other sectors of the market without the responsibility and cost of manufacturing the whole line. At Autumn Fair, Berni Parker Designs showed its own successful collection of greetings cards, prints and originals but also promoted and sold licensed product on behalf of their licensees. One, the French company

Clairefontaine, proved a great success. This long established business has a wonderful catalogue and is using Berni Parker’s ‘Ladies Who Love Life’ designs on a variety of products. These are now already selling well in retail.

These days Ella Doran is a commercial and design-led business that includes collaboration, bespoke, licensed and brand name products. At Maison & Objet, Paris, last month Ella Doran could be seen in two locations. One for interior commercial work and the bespoke product line, the other for ready made home accessories and stationery. These products ranged from tableware, wallpapers and umbrellas to greeting cards, gift-wrap and other paper products. Licencees include; Penny Kennedy, Fulton Umbrellas, The Art Group, TeNeues, Ary Trays and Churchill China. Top Drawer has always been the design- led show for best contemporary design and last month had more ‘names’ than ever. Also impressive were the distributors group stands, featuring European and US design. Scandinavian design was particularly strong and popular. It’s great to see so much new design and product focused on practical items as well as decorative gifts.

Finally and not to be forgotten - Marilyn Robertson, another established individual designer/artist who has been successful in her own right for many years. Also licensing to Clairefontaine, Marilyn’s design will soon be seen on another type of product entirely. Following Brand Licensing last year, Charnos, the tights and stockings company, commissioned the designer to illustrate six styles of glamour ladies for the launch and final packaging of a stunning range of limited edition tights and stockings. Is the independent gift retailer ready for stockings? Well, if the packaging design is good, who knows?

Berni Parkers “Ladies who Love Life” range with Claire Fontaine 31

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